Testing the Bible: wading through the historical facts

Story by Breanna SillStaff writer

“One of the goals of Christian Faculty Network is to let people know that faith and science and scholarship are perfectly compatible,” said Murphy Smith, professor of accounting and member of Christian Faculty Network.

This was part of the message Smith hoped to express during his “Is the Bible Reliable? Evidence from Archaeological and Historical Research” presentation on Tuesday in the Curris Center Ballroom.

Smith’s presentation ranged from presenting scientific proof of monuments or places explained in the Bible to proof of the existence of names mentioned in the Bible.

“There is just an incredible amount of research that people are doing or that has been done where people are investigating archaeological evidences for the truths in the Bible,” he said. “I am totally talking about things that I found that other people have researched and found.”

Smith’s favorite piece of biblical history is the spread of Christianity.

“To me, that is one of the greatest evidences,” he said. “It’s not really archeology, but it’s just saying ‘Look at this thing that happened in history and how these people transformed the world in a short period of time.’” 

Jacob Whitehall, senior from Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, said he found some parts more interesting than some.

“The coolest thing I learned was how the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and the history behind how they were hidden,” Whitehall said.

Smith said his knowledge of accounting leads to a lot of his own personal research on the impact of religiosity on business and society.

“There is lots of research today that talks about how religion affects different things in the business field,” he said. “For example, the top accounting journal is called the ‘Accounting Review.’ Well, just a few years ago a guy had an article that talked about how you can have better quality financial reporting if you have higher levels of religiosity, meaning going to church in your community. Accounting is not religion, but he said faith makes a difference on how people handle financial reporting.”

Whitehall said he thinks being knowledgeable about biblical archeology is not only important in a religious aspect, but also to maintain a strong knowledge of history.

“I think these meetings are important for general knowledge of history and how things came to be,” he said. “As students we need to know how we got to where we are as a society and where we came from.”

Smith echoed Whitehall by saying that without seeing the evidence of biblical archeology and becoming knowledgeable about the facts of it, he had questioned his own faith.

“Evidence is very important, it is what I base my faith on,” he said. “I had to read the Bible, I had to see how it affected people in their lives, so I put my trust in the Bible and I believed that it was true.”

1 Comment on "Testing the Bible: wading through the historical facts"

  1. There are two questions people often ask regarding the reliability of any ancient book: (1) Is it what was originally written? and (2) Is it true? Regarding the first question, people naturally wonder if the words in the Bible have been altered over the centuries due to transcription errors or if the words have stayed consistent over time. This is where the Bible stands out. The Bible has far more source manuscripts than any other ancient writing. For comparison, consider the writings of Julius Caesar. Only ten copies exist, the oldest being written about 1,000 years after Caesar’s original work. In the case of the Bible’s New Testament, there are over 5,000 manuscripts, with most early copies ranging from 200 to 300 years later, and some less than 100 years later.
    Regarding the second question, archaeological and historical evidence provide extensive support for the veracity of the people and events mentioned in the Bible. For example, evidence for the existence of Israel’s ancient enemy, the Hittites, was found in 1906, when archaeologists discovered the ruins of Hattusas, the ancient Hittite capital at what is today called Bogazkale, Turkey. Among many other notable archaeological discoveries are the following: House of David inscription, Hezekiah’s tunnel, Pool of Siloam, the city of Bethsaida, Caiaphas’s ossuary, the Pilate stone, and the Galilee boat.
    In addition to archaeological discoveries, the historicity of the Bible is supported by the extensive detail provided within the text, such as this detail from the crucifixion account: “And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull” (Mark 15:20-22). First-century readers of the Gospel of Mark could check the facts in this account, especially in regard to the three people named.
    Throughout history, from ancient times to the present day, people have looked to the Bible for guidance and inspiration. At his inauguration in 2013, President Obama held his hand on two Bibles, one owned by Martin Luther King Jr. and one by Abraham Lincoln. He ended his oath of office with the words, “So help me God.”

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